Illicit drug use is a punishable offense in today’s military, leading to discharge and sometimes criminal charges.
It is thought that because of these harsh consequences and random drug tests, active duty military personnel typically stay away from these drugs.
That being said, however, soldiers are not immune to the allure of these drugs.
In 2010 and 2011, 56 soldiers in Afghanistan were investigated for the suspected distribution or use of opiates, including heroin and morphine, and during that same time, eight soldiers died from drug overdose.
Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world’s opium, making temptation difficult to overcome in such a stressful environment.
As previously mentioned, alcohol and prescription painkillers are much more common in today’s military ranks than any other drug. A survey of soldiers deployed to Iraq indicated that 12 to 15 percent tested positive for alcohol problems.
Soldiers on active duty cite boredom, along with depression, anxiety, and an attempt to self-medicate or cope with the stress as reasons for drinking heavily. Similarly, with 3.8 million service members being prescribed pain medication, it is no surprise that so many military personnel have become dependent and turn towards abusing these opioid narcotics.